Ever since Sushil Kumar won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, popularity of wrestling has, without a doubt, grown by leaps and bounds. A series of successes followed from Yogeshwar Dutt to the Phogat sisters to Sakshi Malik. They have inspired many other wresters in India and given rise to many success stories, one such success story being that of Navjot Kaur’s.
Navjot in action
You are the first women wrestler from India, who won gold medal in 2018 Asian Wrestling Championship. Was it difficult for you to win against Japan’s Miya Imai?
I am very happy about this win and it’s a big thing for India as well. It was a difficult win against Japan as it is the no. 1 country in wrestling. But, I had confidence in myself and the couches taught me how to tackle the difficulties. Despite all the challenges, it was a wonderful win.
How did you prepare yourself for the big challenge?
Immediately after the completion of trials for our competition, we started our preparations because this time our rules had changed. We had our weight and bout on the same day, so we had to prepare beforehand because this was the first time it happened. We prepared very well and followed the schedule given by our couches. Our hard work paid off as we brought home one gold medal, one silver medal and 2 bronze medals.
You had financial problem in your family, yet you did not let go off your passion. How did you manage and keep yourself consistent?
There have been a lot of problems in my family especially financial problems. But my father supported me and did not let them affect me. He found solutions to my problems. I am thankful that I had family support without which I couldn’t have become what I am today. My passion drove me to my success. Problems come and go, but our work should not be hindered by those problems.
How can Indian government encourage and support more women wrestlers in India?
I can’t suggest the government anything because they have more knowledge and experience and they know what to do. But one thing that I would like to suggest out of my personal experience is that in small villages academies have to be set up for wresting as kids from these villages cannot afford to go to big cities for their training. I believe that if kids have their initial training from these small academics and then if they move to bigger ones, it will be very helpful for them.
Who is your favourite player and inspiration in your life?
In wrestling I see Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, Narsingh Yadav, Geeta Phogat and Alka Tomar – these wresters have taken India’s name to new heights. In case of women wrestlers, Alka Tomar and Geetika Jakhar were the people whom I observed when I started off. Looking up to all these people and bringing myself to their level is always what I dreamt off and I will continue to do so.
What are your plans?
I am currently preparing for 2020 Olympics and that will be my main target. Since, I missed the 2016 Olympics, I hope I play and bring a medal home. I am planning to participate in as many competitions as I can and win more medals for my country. For now, I am preparing for the upcoming Asian games.
What is your advice for women aspirants, especially to overcome societal prejudices?
My advice for women aspirants is that no matter what the society says, they must follow their dreams and work hard for it.
However, it is important for to extend support; if they don’t have support from their family, it gives an opportunity for people to speak ill. I also would like to suggest to them - work hard because, everyone has potential in them, and only if they work hard can they reach their goals.